Military Unpreparedness

  • April 01, 2016
  • Dr Conrad C Crane, Dr Michael E Lynch, Dr James D. Scudieri

When Gen. Gordon Sullivan was Chief of Staff of the Army, he kept two books on his desk, The Seeds of Disaster: The Development of French Army Doctrine, 1919- 1939 by Col. Robert Doughty, and America’s First Battles, 1776-1965 by Lt. Col. Charles E. Heller and Brig. Gen. William A. Stofft. Sullivan was determined that his Army would be fully prepared for the next war. Other chiefs have echoed Sullivan’s concern, and the lessons learned from studying past battles are not always lost to history, yet they are sometimes forgotten. Landpower is by its nature a complex activity, and military history is replete with examples of unreadiness or unpreparedness for battle. The case studies that follow extend those covered in America’s First Battles. Heller and Stofft determined that the nation and its armed forces routinely arrived on the field of battle unready for the challenges they faced due to lack of adequate and timely training, miserly budgets, and an atrophied force structure. America’s First Battles examined the first battle in each of America’s wars, from the American Revolution to Vietnam, in order to gain insights into how the nation fared in these encounters. Its look at first, often disastrous, encounters presents a sobering reminder of the need for readiness. The following case studies also illustrate how complexity defines operations and affects both readiness and outcomes. The studies illustrate three themes from which insights may be drawn.